Monthly Archives: June 2016

8th Ward Update

Dear Neighbors

Thank you for this opportunity to update you on City and neighborhood issues.

Parks Funding Proposals

Elizabeth Glidden 8th Ward Council Member

Elizabeth Glidden
8th Ward Council Member

By the time you read this, the City Council may have voted on a proposal to provide increased funding to our park system, to address a maintenance backlog at neighborhood parks.

To date, three proposals for funding Minneapolis Parks have been introduced publicly:

First, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a referendum proposal, which would provide $15 million per year for 20 years dedicated to neighborhood parks. Voters would need to approve this proposal.

Second is a proposal by Council Members Barb Johnson and Lisa Goodman that includes a guaranteed minimum of $10.5 million per year for 20 years, a $3 million per year increase in operating revenue, and one-time funding of $1.5 million.

Third is a proposal by Mayor Hodges and John Quincy for $300 million over 10 years in parks- and city-roads capital investment. The proposal would fund, annually, $10 million in park capital maintenance and $20 in roads maintenance.

Many residents have contacted me to express support for our world-class park system, and I believe that the funding needs for maintaining park infrastructure are real. At the same time I want to ensure that we are able to balance our need to address other funding priorities, including our significant road-maintenance gap. Failure to maintain either of these fundamental systems – park infrastructure and city roads – will result in higher cost to taxpayers down the the road.

The City is now considering financial impacts of all three of the above proposals through its Ways & Means committee, and reviewing potential funding sources such as an increased levy. A final issue that has been raised by many residents is ensuring the Park Board utilizes a racialequity framework to determine funding priorities and timeline for any increased investment in neighborhood parks.

Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance Approved by City Council

To reduce the litter, waste, environmental impacts and expense of managing carryout bags, the City Council has approved an ordinance to regulate the use of plastic carryout bags in retail establishments. The new ordinance takes effect June 1, 2017.

Key features of the ordinance include: Retail establishments may not provide plastic carryout bags to any customer.

Retail establishments providing bags to customers may only use recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or bags designed to be reusable multiple times.

Retail establishments providing bags must charge customers at least 5 cents per bag. (Customers who receive food assistance are exempted from paying for a bag.) Retailers may choose to pay a 5¢ fee to a litter cleanup nonprofit in lieu of charging this fee.

Certain types of plastic bags will be exempt from the prohibition, including bags that come into direct contact with food, takeout food bags, and specialized types of bags, for instance for newspapers or dry cleaning.

With this ordinance, Minneapolis joins many communities across the country and the world that have adopted laws to address the impacts created by carryout bags; more than 160 U.S. cities have enacted carryout bag bans and/or fees.

How to reach Elizabeth

I invite you to contact me at (612) 673-2208 or elizabeth.glidden@ minneapolismn.gov. As well, I host community office hours every Monday, 9-11 a.m. at Sabathani Community Center, 310 E 38th Street, at a table in the first-floor hall closest to the parking lot. Please just drop by or call our office for a time-certain appointment.

Open Streets Coming to Chicago Avenue in 2017?

By Chris Schommer & Stearline Rucker

FRNNG, in coordination with our neighbors to the north and south, is working on developing an Open Streets event along Chicago Avenue for 2017.

These popular city events close off the street from vehicle traffic on a Sunday and let people use the street however they like. There are events held up and down the street and FRNNG is tentatively planning to combine our annual celebration with Open Streets next summer.

If you would like to see this happen, we need your support! While the Open Streets personnel are well practiced with running an Open Streets event and will be able to provide volunteers on the day of the event, the vast majority of planning is done by neighborhood organizations
and volunteers. If you are available to help make this vision a reality and bring an Open Streets event to Chicago Avenue, please contact the office at (612) 721-5424 or frnng@frnng.org.

Utility-Box Artwork Project Continues

By Lindsey Feiner, co-chair, Greening Committee

The greening committee has continued with the utility-box wrap project this winter and spring, gathering many images created by artists in the neighborhood.

Phase 1 – Completed Fall 2015
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Cedar, NW corner
• 46th St. & Park Ave,. NW corner
• 46th St. & 4th Ave., NW cornerPhase 2 – Due to be completed
Spring 2016
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Chicago, SW corner
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Portland, SE corner
• 48th St. & Chicago
• 46th St. & Chicago Ave., NE corner
• Minnehaha Pkwy. & Bloomington, NE
corner

Phase 3 – Due to be completed
Fall 2016
• 46th St. & Portland Ave., NW corner
• 42nd St. & Park Ave., NE corner
• 42nd St. & Portland Ave., SE corner
• 47th St. & Portland Ave., NE corner

The project has been moving forward in phases. The first three boxes were completed in fall 2015, and the second phase will begin in spring 2016. Five boxes wrapped in mainly nature-themed art should be completed in June and July of 2016. This art consists of mainly of photography and painting.

In fall 2016, the project will conclude with four boxes on Portland and Park Avenues. The theme for these boxes will be the diversity, history, and people of FRN. We are still accepting artwork that fits into this theme.

Box Wrap InstallationBy the time you see the artwork on the utility boxes along the parkway and Chicago Avenue, it will have been through two city committee reviews! The application process started in April with determining box eligibility (only certain utility boxes can be wrapped). That step was followed by the review of the artwork by the Public Art Advisory Panel and the Arts Commission. Once those entities sign off, the greening committee applies for an encroachment permit for each box and a local vendor wraps the boxes.

Any local artists interested in learning more about our utility-wrap project for the fall 2016 phase can apply by emailing greening@frnng.org. Please tell us about your artwork and how it relates to the themes of diversity, history, and the people of our neighborhood. Artists will be compensated with a small stipend.

Meeting Addresses Problem Properties

By Mike Lyon, South Northrop Representative

During the meeting on February 22 that was convened to discuss an increase in burglaries in our area, a number of people mentioned a related topic: vacant and problem houses. To address this concern, a meeting was held at McRae Park on Monday, April 4. Chair of the community and safety committee, Ben Elliott, conducted the meeting.

Problem properties and vacant houses

Photo by Tony Webster / CC

Photo by Tony Webster / CC

Of the three or four problem properties in FRN that were mentioned at the meeting, the most notable is the property at 4640 Portland Avenue, referred to as “The Pink House,” which has been vacant since 2009.

The property has changed ownership between the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County since 2009, but was never sold to the public. The city of Minneapolis, current owner of the property, made it available for purchase in mid-January 2016 through a new city program: Vacant Housing Recycling Program. An offer by a well-regarded developer is currently pending approval by the Minneapolis city council and is expected to be finalized in August. If the developer withdraws the purchase offer, the city has committed to raze the house with backed support from council members from the 8th and 11th wards and the FRN board. Once razed, the lot will become available for purchase.

A problem for years

Neighbors have called 911 since 2009 to report suspected illegal activities in the vacant property at 4640 Portland. Because of incomplete information by concerned residents and inaccurate data by 911 personnel, concerns about the property were never flagged as a “problem property” by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

A number of neighbors who attended the April 4 meeting expressed vehement frustration with the situation. A common theme of the night was the willingness of concerned neighbors to continue to monitor and report suspicious activity but they want and expect a response, along with ongoing feedback from the MPD.

Solutions and suggestions

Some solutions to the issue of problem properties were offered by officials and neighborhood board representatives who attended the April 4th meeting. A supervisor from 911 presented information on the correct way to report information. See this website for more information: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/911/ tipsforcalling

The neighborhood community and safety committee will continue to help residents of FRN voice their concerns to MPD’s crime prevention specialist and the MPD in general at monthly committee meetings and through other means of communication. The goal of the community and safety committee is to act as a liaison between the residents of FRN and the MPD when elevated issues are identified. Also, an established block club that is connected to the crime prevention specialist can enact an effective plan for solving an issue such as a “problem property.”

Senior project coordinator from the residential and real estate finance division of the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development department (CPED), Roxanne Young Kimball, will be presenting the city council with the recommendation to approve the sale of 4640 Portland on May 13th.

If you would like to know the current status of a vacant property, please contact Roxanne Young Kimball at Roxanne. Kimball@minneapolismn.gov or the neighborhood housing committee at housing@frnng.org. If there is a problem property on your block, you may contact the community and safety committee at communityandsafety@frnng.org.

President’s Letter – May, 2016

Willie Bridges

Willie Bridges, FRNNG President

By Willie Bridges, FRNNG President

Recently, I’ve attended a number of meetings regarding our community: its safety, well-being and current concerns. At one of our community meetings, we talked about keeping our community safe. Ben Elliott, who is chair of the community and safety committee, organized a community-wide meeting to talk about safety concerns along with invited guest Inspector Michael Sullivan, Commander of the Third Precinct. At the meeting we talked about some of the community’s concerns. It was a lively discussion. There were suggestions on things that we can do as a community to monitor and maintain our community safe from burglaries, drug trafficking, etc., that all communities face. Inspector Sullivan says that we should call 911 whenever we see suspicious activities going on in the neighborhood.

I’m suggesting that you also give the FRNNG office a call with your concerns. We may be able to direct you to the appropriate person that you need to contact.

I attended another meeting at which city council members John Quincy and Elizabeth Glidden were in attendance. Among issues discussed, we talked about some vacant homes in the community and what can be done with them. We learned that one such home has already been sold. Another home has potential to be sold and rehabbed. If it isn’t sold, the house will be demolished. This house had been vacant for over six years.

It is so important that we as a community look out for each other. We can’t afford to say that this doesn’t affect me. If there are negative things going on in our neighborhood, it’s important that we report it to the proper authorities.

The greening committee is looking for volunteers to help with the landscaping project along 2nd Avenue. You may have noticed the improvements: weeds gone, grass cut, and flowers will be planted this spring. Co-chairs Tim Price and Lindsey Feiner need your help. Please give the neighborhood office a call if you are interested in volunteering for this committee and our other committees.

The McRae baseball field project is a “go” and will start in late July. The field will be closed for a year. McRae Recreation Center will remain open with activities throughout the summer.

I hope that you and your family member will plan on attending our annual neighborhood celebration on May 21, 2016, at McRae Park. We will be celebrating FRN community! FRN neighbors, when you are working out in your yard make sure that you close your garage door and that you lock your back door if you are working in the front yard.
—Willie, President, FRN